Agenda and decisions

Venue: John Meikle Room, The Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton TA1 1HE. View directions

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No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Councillor Suria Aujla, Councillor Adam Boyden subtituted by Cllr Mike Rigby, Cllr Edric Hobbs substituted by Cllr Mike Murphy, Prof Paul Withers from Lancaster University and Prof Penny Johnes from Bristol University.


Election of a vice-chair for the meeting

To invite nominations and elect a vice-chair for the meeting.


Councillor Henry Hobhouse was elected as vice-chair for the meeting.


Declarations of Interest

To receive and note any declarations of interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.

(The other registrable interests of Councillors of Somerset Council, arising from membership of City, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes: City, Town & Parish Twin Hatters - Somerset Councillors 2023 )


There were no declarations of interest received.


Public Question Time

The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.

For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker and you will be asked to speak before Councillors debate the issue.

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The committee noted the statement from David Orr.


Overview of the nutrient pollution problem on the Somerset Levels and Moors designated sites


The committee received a presentation from Mark Taylor, Natural England.


Citizen Scientist research from the river catchments and the Ramsar sites

To receive a presentation from Dr Andrew Clegg


How is the water level controlled on the Somerset Levels and Moors? pdf icon PDF 9 MB

To receive a presentation from Somerset Internal Drainage Boards.


The committee received a presentation from Phil Brewin, Somerset Internal Drainage Boards.


Wessex Water improvements driving phosphate reduction on the Somerset Levels and Moors pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive a presentation from Wessex Water


The committee received a presentation from Matt Wheeldon, Wessex Water.


The contribution of agricultural pollution to the nutrient problem on the Somerset Levels and Moors - in terms of scale and the known unknowns.

Item for discussion


The committee received information from Giles Bryan, The Environment Agency.


Summing up and next steps

The Chair to summarise the discussion and any next steps 


The committee voted unanimously in favour of recommendations to the Executive as follows -

  1. Immediately remove the 20% buffer included in the Somerset phosphate calculator.
  2. Conduct a speedy review of the huge inconsistency between what Dr Clegg said, echoed by Wessex Water and what the calculator says with how much of the river borne phosphorus enters the Somerset Levels and Moors, as that calculator is what informs developers as to how much phosphate we are requiring them to offset.
  3. Conduct an urgent review of the entire nutrient neutrality policy in light of the legal advice we have received, which makes it clear that headroom exists and that it could be used in the mitigation of new housing development.
  4. The Climate and Place to set up a Task and Finish Group which will report back to the Committee on a tight timescale to set out the options available to the Council once it is in possession of the correct data.  
  5. The Council looks to work on a Land Use Strategy as part of a Local Plan.